Our Head of Operations, Craig Pullen, reviews his latest test drive – the SEAT Ateca 1.4 EcoTSI Xcellence
SEAT’s entry into the crossover sector isn’t entirely surprising, given that the motoring public has collectively decided that hatchbacks aren’t high enough, and estates aren’t large enough.
I don’t share the enthusiasm. They’re usually trying to be all things to all people, but the balance between an elevated ride height and the associated perception of safety is often at the expense of handling. That said I always try to be objective, and I recognise that many things exist perfectly well without my approval; Coldplay, baked beans, people that say “at the end of the day” instead of “ultimately”, etc.
So, is this a good car for those who are looking for a car that does look like it should be able to go off-road (even though it won’t and never will)?
From a styling perspective, it’s what could be described as generic; there’s little of the design flair or swoops and slashes that make the rest of the SEAT range externally more interesting than most of its VAG stablemates, and if there are, in this white version, they’re very well hidden.
Inside, it’s OK. The materials used are decent, with soft feel plastics and vinyl used throughout. It’s nailed together well, and those that have been inside a Leon will find it familiar. This model has the XCELLENCE Pack,(£1225) which provides park assist, 360 degree cameras, wireless phone charging and “Virtual Pedal”, or, as I call it, wavy-foot-boot-open.
Interior space is good, with enough room for 4 adults in the cabin, and a suitcase each in the boot. There aren’t many oddment binnacles which does seem to be an oversight, given its family target market.
This 1.4 engine is equipped with Active Cylinder Technology, meaning that, when conditions allow, the amount of cylinders used switches from 4 to 2. It’s a seamless transition, with the switch only becoming apparent when a message is presented on the instrument panel. Burning petrol in two cylinders instead of 4 will provide minor fuel consumption benefits, although I got 37.6 mpg on a motorway run; some way short of the 52.3 claimed by SEAT.
The chassis is decent too, with very little body roll or wallow. It could even be said to be “fun” to drive. It’s comfortable on the motorway, well insulated from road and tyre noise, and it will keep you safe from harm, with Tiredness Recognition, and for those outside, Pedestrian Protection and City Emergency Braking, in common with most of the VAG range.
So, this car is quite good at being a car that looks like it could go off road, if that’s what you want. Also, worthy of consideration is the Mazda CX-3, or, if you’re willing to forfeit some brand cachet and refinement, the more utilitarian, less expensive, but no less capable Dacia Duster.
P11d £ £24385
RANGE AND ECONOMY
Fuel Tank Size 50 litres
Range 575 miles
Fuel Consumption (EC Combined) 52.3 mpg